Pages tagged with "Believe in Scotland"

Who do you want to represent Scotland internationally - so-called "lords" or democratic representatives? 

Who do you want to represent Scotland internationally - unelected peers or democratic representatives? 

Who has the right to represent Scotland’s interests abroad? Is it elected representatives such as Angus Robertson - or unelected Conservative donors such as ‘lord’ Malcolm Offord? Many will ask - what possible right does Malcolm Offord have to represent Scotland internationally? And yet he does. 

The UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said that all meetings between Scottish Government ministers and overseas governments must be organised through the UK Government and attended by its own officials. The latest move represents a step up from reports that UK officials had been asked to hold follow-up meetings with any foreign dignitaries who meet with Scottish ministers.

According to polling analysed by Professor John Curtice on “What Scotland Thinks” - more Scots say they want Holyrood to have power and responsibility over foreign policy than say Westminster (where many more members are now unelected than are elected). 

A new attempt to undermine devolution

This is new. It is an attempt to delegitimize and undermine Scottish Government efforts to promote Scotland abroad. In the past, Scotland’s elected representatives have worked along with the UK’s network of embassies and consulates to promote Scottish businesses, tourism, education and so on. Before the Parliament came along, Scottish business and trade organisations did the same - because the UK has never promoted Scotland effectively internationally. This is a clear role of the devolved Parliament - which has not been questioned before.

But the UK Government is stepping in to constrain and curtail elected representatives’ work. Recently, Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee heard how at an event in Paris, the Scotland Office intervened at the last moment to disrupt the Scottish Government’s event to promote Scotland’s food and drink sector, causing embarrassment to both the Government and businesses. 

Scotland has its own identity and needs its own representation internationally

Scotland has its own identity and needs separate representation on the world stage - it isn’t helpful to subsume it in UK-wide promotions. That should be done by the people Scotland elects at the ballot box. External Affairs Minister Angus Robertson, who has been undermined in his efforts to do this, is an elected MSP. 

In contrast, Malcolm Offord was rejected at the ballot box when he stood for election to Holyrood in 2021. Offord believes that Scotland is too poor and its people are too incapable to survive and thrive as an independent country - hardly a positive message to send internationally. 

But whatever Offord says and does when he is abroad is up to him and his Conservative cronies - he can never, ever be voted out at the ballot box. He is not democratically accountable in Scotland. 

An unelected Conservative crony now represents Scotland on important trade missions

At the end of 2022, Offord represented Scotland and the UK on a trip to the Arctic Circle where he met many leading Icelandic business figures and politicians and may have taken the opportunity to brief against Scotland. 

In 2021, Offord travelled to India with Liz Truss to represent Scotland at events again involving politicians, business people and leaders of civic society, where again he is likely to have briefed that Scotland is an insignificant region of the UK that could not survive as an independent country. 

Offord’s propagandist past

‘Lord’ Malcolm Offord has a history as an anti-independence propagandist. He is not accountable to any voter. 

Offord was the director of Acanchi, a PR firm, that set up what purported to be a “grassroots” No campaign group in 2014, called “Vote No Borders”. They made a glossy propaganda video that was shown extensively on the BBC in the run up to the 2014 referendum as a news item. Acanchi also made scare videos for the cinema using the name “Vote No Borders” - which did not exist as a real group. Grassroots campaigning groups for a “Yes” vote - such as Business for Scotland - did not get their campaigning material shown without comment on BBC News channels. 

Offord also donated £147,000 to the Conservative Party and he donated to fund Michael Gove’s personal election expenses. He was then awarded a permanent seat at Westminster by scandal-hit PM Boris Johnson. 

Only independence can give Scotland control of its international profile

Under devolution, Scotland should have the right to work with the UK’s embassies and consulates to promote Scottish interests. Scotland has a separate identity and its own brands. 

But the UK Government is moving in to aggressively undermine that. 

The Scottish electorate has no say over what “peers” like Malcolm Offord choose to do or say when abroad. He can never, ever lose his seat in the UK Parliament as long as he lives. It has been awarded to him permanently - against the direct wishes of the Scottish electorate as expressed at the ballot box. 

And yet Offord is regarded by the UK Government as having more right to represent Scotland abroad than democratic representatives. 

Only with independence can Scotland ensure democratic accountability for its representatives and the right to promote Scotland’s interests internationally. 

Further info

Watch a video about Offord’s ‘Vote No Borders” campaign

 

Media Watch - Unionists announce attack on Scotland’s Parliament

Those who have been warning that the UK government is planning to undermine and attack the powers of the Scottish Parliament got further confirmation this week from “lord” David Frost in a column in the Daily Telegraph.

Frost is an unelected member of the Westminster Parliament who has held several ministerial posts including that of Brexit Minister. Writing in the Telegraph, he said the time has come to “reverse” the process of devolution.

Scotland cannot protect its Parliament without independence

Despite never being elected, Frost has more power as a member of the UK Government to decide Scotland’s affairs than Scotland’s democratic representatives. 

There is nothing Scotland can do to protect the power of the Parliament without independence. 

Some democratic mandates are more equal than others

Frost and other Westminster Parliamentarians -  including members of the Labour Party - often trumpet their belief that a narrow victory in the Brexit referendum in England was a mandate for forcing a damaging hard Brexit on Scotland and the UK.

Yet, they do not acknowledge that devolution was brought into being by a huge majority at the referendum of 1997, when an astonishing 75% of voters voted “Yes” to the creation of a Scottish Parliament.

Holyrood is important to Scotland. Polling analysed by Professor John Curtice on “What Scotland Thinks” shows that a consistent 75% of Scots want Holyrood to control how Scotland is run. Only 14% think Westminster - where many more members are unelected than are elected - should control how Scotland is run. 

“It’s time to reverse the process [of devolution]”

Writing in the Telegraph, Frost said that the issues facing the SNP were an opportunity to roll back devolution. He added that he believes Labour leader Keir Starmer basically agrees with him, and will likely ignore Gordon Brown’s suggestions for greater devolution for Scotland. 

Frost wrote: "Not only must no more powers be devolved to Scotland, it’s time to reverse the process... Ministers should make clear that, if re-elected, they will review and roll back some currently devolved powers. In particular, Scotland does not need to be an independent actor on the world stage; it should not be able to legislate to disrupt free trade within the UK; and it does not need to have most tax-raising powers currently available to it."

Frost also praised Scottish Secretary Alister Jack for using a Section 35 order to clamp down on devolved powers - and said the UK government must be more 'assertive' in its attacks on devolution, arguing the UK Internal Markets Act "has not been used assertively as it should".

The Scottish Government is being stripped of even its limited autonomy

The Scottish Parliament is already under attack - the Internal Markets Act strips it of powers in even minor areas. For example, Holyrood can’t ban single-use wet wipes despite their environmental damage; it can’t put a deposit on bottles; it may well be prevented from raising the minimum unit price on alcohol despite evidence that this reduces alcohol deaths.

Before Brexit, the Scottish Parliament had a great deal of say over how restructuring funds from the EU were spent. Since then, the UK government decides how to spend that money. It has also reneged on its promise to replace that money, providing less than half. 

The UK government is coming in to fund projects as it sees fit without consultation - such as funding a bridge in Douglas Ross’ constituency. But how can Scotland develop a more coherent transport strategy - which is supposed to be entirely devolved -  if Westminster is funding projects in Scotland based on its own, different, criteria?

The Scottish Parliament has also already been prevented from fully implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - essentially because the UK Government doesn’t want refugee children to have the same human rights as others. 

The UK does not recognise any sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament or people

The Supreme Court has ruled that in the UK, all sovereignty resides at Westminster - contradicting Scotland’s long and proud tradition that sovereignty rests ultimately with the people. 

They think that it does not matter that the Scottish people voted overwhelmingly to have a Scottish Parliament after long years of campaigning and struggle. It has no legal sovereignty - Westminster has only lent it powers that it can take back at any time. 

Given that Frost and other members of the UK Parliament believe that unelected “peers” have the right to overrule the Scottish Parliament’s elected representatives, their commitment to democracy is questionable. 

The choice is simple: independence protects Scottish democracy while remaining in this failing union will diminish our abilities to make decisions for the benefit of Scotland.  

 

Building a better future - lessons on independence from the Slovak Republic

There are few countries in the world with anything like Scotland’s long history of nationhood which are NOT independent. Scotland emerged as a kingdom in the 9th century and remained as an independent sovereign state until 1707, when it entered into the Treaty of Union. 

Looking at global examples is not meant to provide exact comparisons -  but it can be instructive to see the ways other countries successfully - and peacefully - journeyed towards independence. 

Lessons from the Slovak Republic

The Slovak Republic, now an independent country within the EU, has almost the same population size as Scotland - 5.4 million - but it is about one-third smaller. A landlocked, mountainous area of central Europe,  it was a semi-autonomous duchy within the Hungarian Empire in the middle ages, but became a fully independent country for the first time when it broke with the Czech Republic (both used to be part of Czechoslovakia).  It is often referred to as Slovakia, but its official title is the Slovak Republic.

Initially, nationalism was based on Slovaks’ desire to preserve their different ethnic and cultural identity, but in the 21st century, it has adopted the kind of civic nationalism that characterises the Scottish independence movement. 

Since independence, the Slovak Republic’s GDP has started to reach parity with the Czech Republic, which was better off before the split. Although it is not a wealthy country, the percentage of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion is lower in Slovakia than in the UK. 

The Velvet Revolution 

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, demonstrations began against Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. On November 20, 1989, an estimated 500,000 protestors gathered in Prague. The entire top tier of the Czechoslovakian government resigned a few days later - they peacefully relinquished power and the one-party state came to an end. In June 1990, the first first democratic elections were held. 

At that time the Czech area’s GDP was 20% higher than the Slovak area. Cash transfers to the Slovak area, which had been the norm, stopped in 1991. The two areas’ leaders decided to split into independent countries. There was no referendum.

As the dominant economic power, the Czechs were concerned about potential damage to their currency. The Slovaks agreed to introduce their own version - initially by stamping a crest on Czech banknotes. 

The Velvet Divorce

At midnight on December 31, 1992, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech and Slovak Republics. On January 1, 1993, the National Bank of Slovakia was formed. Just a few weeks later on Feb 8,1993, Slovakia introduced its own currency, the koruna, which replaced the Czech koruna at the same rate. The transition was smooth. The two countries remained in a currency union and continue to cooperate closely.  

Building a stronger economy post-independence

In 1995, the Slovak Republic signed an Association Agreement with the EU. In 2003, a referendum on joining the EU was held, with 93.7% voting Yes. The Slovak and Czech Republics were two of the countries that became EU members as part of the 2004 enlargement

On January 1, 2009, Slovakia adopted the Euro as its national currency. Slovakia became a more integral part of the EU than their neighbours, because of their adoption of the Euro and their greater enthusiasm for taking part in the banking and fiscal unions. The Czech Republic still does not use the Euro. 

Since joining the EU, Slovakia’s GDP per capita has risen to 95% of the Czech Republic’s. Poverty has also reduced significantly. Pensions are about the same rate in both countries. 

The Slovak Republic is subdivided into 8 regions, each having a certain amount of autonomy. The capital and largest city is Bratislava. In 2019, Zuzana Čaputová, an environmental campaigner, became Slovakia's first female president (there is also a Prime Minister). The country has been very dependent on Russian gas and is now attempting to speed up a transition to renewable energy. 

The rise of the Slovakian independence movement

Arguments for independence started to gain force in the 19th century when Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At that time, Hungary started to force people to assimilate, adopting the Hungarian language and culture. 

When revolution erupted in 1848, the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor’s side, hoping for independence from Hungary, but they failed. Thereafter relations between Slovaks and the state of Hungary deteriorated. 

The rise and fall of Czechoslovakia

After the First World War, in the chaos that surrounded the break up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, several territories broke away and joined together to form Czechoslovakia. 

In 1938, the Munich Agreement, which UK PM Neville Chamberlain famously signed with Hitler, allowed Germany to annexe part of Czechoslovakia - the Suddetenland. The remaining country became Czecho-Slovakia with more autonomy promised for Slovakia. In fact, Slovakia became a puppet regime of Nazi Germany. Almost all of the Jews, along with gypsies and dissidents were deported to death camps. In 1944, there was an uprising against Nazi occupation - the Slovak National Uprising. It was unsuccessful and thousands of people were put to death. 

After the Second World War, Czechoslovakia was taken over by the Soviet Union. It became a puppet regime of the USSR, behind the Iron Curtain. In 1968, armed tanks rolled into Prague to put down an uprising called the Prague Spring. In 1969, Czechoslovakia became a federation of the Czech and Slovak Republics but it remained under Soviet control, with only limited autonomy, until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Conclusion - it is possible to build a better future with independence in Europe

There are of course many differences between Scotland’s story and that of the Slovak Republic. But when Unionists pour scorn on Scotland’s plans, it is useful to look at what Slovakia managed to accomplish in a relatively short time.

Since gaining independence, the Slovak Republic has managed to increase the prosperity of its citizens and to reduce relative poverty. They have seized the opportunity of joining the EU to improve trade and cooperation.

Scots have every reason to feel confident that Scotland can also accomplish the task of building an independent nation. Scotland is significantly more prepared, and has a wealthier more advanced economy that the Slovak Republic had when it became independent.

More independence lessons

Too wee, too poor for independence? Malta didn’t think so  - read more here

Why Norway Chose to Become an Independent Country –  read more here

Why Quebec’s independence dream went wrong - read more here

New Zealand’s century-long journey to independence - read more here 

As Jamaica proudly celebrates 60 years of independence - read more here

 

Believe in Scotland App

Everything you need to know about Scotland's economy, its finances, independence and the impact of Brexit on Scotland in an App.

Believe in Scotland has put Scotland the Brief in an App to make the content easy to share with friends, family and anyone interested in Scotland’s future. The App also features notifications of new articles, videos and events, a quiz on Scotland’s economy (bet you score less than 4/10!) and it answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Believe in Scotland.

Get it on your phone now and have a play! 

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View this page on your phone and then click below to download the app.

Download Instructions

Android

iOS (Apple)

1.) Open the link using Google Chrome. 1.) Open the link using Safari.
2.) You will be prompted to Allow or Block Push Notifications. You will then be asked to install the app by clicking the banner popup at the bottom of the screen.

2.) You will see the app in the browser and a popup to install the app and 'ADD TO HOME SCREEN' will appear at the bottom of the screen.

3.) After clicking the 'ADD TO HOME SCREEN' link, press 'add' (If you have dismissed the prompt, you can add manually by choosing 'Add to Home Screen' from the Settings menu of the browser). 3.) When you click the blue "ADD TO HOME SCREEN" button you will then see instructions for how to add to the Home screen on iOS.
4.) Install app & allow or block notifications. 4.) Tap the relevant icon then press the 'Add to Home Screen' icon (You may need to scroll down to see the '+' Icon). Then click 'Add to Home Screen'.
5.) The app will now appear on the Home screen of your device. 5.) You can then click 'Add' in the top of the screen to complete the install process.  

 

Need more help? Click here.

What is a progressive web app? 

Energy freeze won't cool Scotland's anger over energy rip-off

The UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has decided to extend the current cap on energy prices for another three months - but that is not enough to help Scottish families who have to pay over the odds to heat their homes. 

The headline figure says that this will keep average bills at £2,500 a year instead of pushing them up to £3,000. But people living in Scotland, especially in rural areas, pay more while average incomes are lower - leading to soaring levels of fuel poverty. Energy Action Scotland calculates that the Scottish average bill is £1,000 more than England. 

An analysis from February 2022, before the bulk of the fuel bill rises, showed that the levels of fuel poverty range were already running at 57% in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, 47% in Highland and 46% in Argyll and Bute.

The irony is that these are the very areas which produce energy, from oil and gas to wind and tidal power. When Scotland becomes independent, its elected government will be empowered to regulate and tax energy producers in a way that puts Scotland’s people at the heart of energy policy. 

Too little too late

The gesture by the UK Government to freeze prices comes as falling energy prices on the global market has meant the cap has cost them less than predicted. The wholesale price of gas fell by 75% since its peak in Summer 2022. Given this drop in prices, the UK Government should have the capacity to reduce bills instead of freezing them, perhaps by extending the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme payments which come to an end this month. 

The freeze is obviously better than an egregious rise. But the people of Scotland are frustrated about how Westminster has seen fit to manage Scotland’s energy resources and want to take the levers of power into their own hands. 

Scotland produces around as much energy as it uses from renewable sources that cost 9 times less than gas- we should pay less for energy, not more.

Scottish people are angry about energy rip off

The people of Scotland are increasingly angry that they have to dance to Westminster’s tune on energy. They live in an energy rich country but don’t see the benefits. They have seen how the UK Government’s pursuit of ideological privatisation has impacted the lives of ordinary people. 

British Gas was once in public ownership. Under the Centrica name, in February it announced that last year, profits had tripled to a record £3.3 billion as energy prices and production soared, paving the way for a £300 million share buy-back - at the same time as it was sending debt collectors to forcibly install prepayment meters. 

Why Scots are unfairly burdened when it comes to energy costs

  • The much-quoted “average” of £2,500 a year hides the fact that, in much of Scotland, bills are higher. 
  • Many people living in Scotland outside of the Central Belt don’t have access to gas, which is still priced lower than electricity - despite the fact it is much cheaper to produce.
  • Scotland pays higher standing charges than most of England.
  • Temperatures tend to be lower in Scotland, so people need to use more energy.
  • The UK is the only European country (except Portugal which was forced to do so after a financial crisis) to have privatised the national grid. This has led to additional problems with lack of investment and planning for the transition to renewables. 
  • The privatised National Grid operates across the UK as a whole - there is no opportunity for Scotland to make greater use of its own renewable energy or charge to export it to England.
  • The National Grid also does not allow Scotland to set its own demand signals - for example making energy cheaper at weekends as some countries do. 
  • The amount that is charged in the fixed portion of bills includes clawing back money lost when 30 energy supply firms went bust due to regulatory failure that can be laid at the door of the UK Government.
  • Household energy bills also include a levy for expensive nuclear power that Scotland doesn’t want or need. 
  • Scottish households pay the highest energy bills in Europe - where many governments have nationally-owned power companies. 

Cheapskate gesture won’t buy off demands for independence

The UK Government’s cheapskate gesture is too little too late for Scotland. Falling gas and electricity prices mean the government has already made a saving – the scheme was forecast to cost £37bn in January. It does nothing to recognise that Scotland is suffering from higher levels of fuel poverty while its natural resources are plundered for profit. 

Scotland is at the mercy of the UK government when it comes to regulating the energy market. It has become obvious that the pursuit of ideological privatisation has led to a situation where ordinary people pay much higher bills and that money ends up in the profits of energy companies, who have used it to fund share buybacks and dividends.

While the overall UK energy policy comes under question, an independent Scotland could consider whether to build back some public ownership and how to regulate the private sector in a way that puts people at the heart of energy policy. It could certainly charge less if it controlled its own renewable energy supply. 

Scotland is sick of seeing successive Westminster governments exploit Scotland’s energy resources for profit without protecting the interests of Scotland’s people. It is time for independence.

Poll - Two policies that would allow the next FM to raise independence support to 60%

A poll conducted by Panelbase for Believe in Scotland of over 2,000 Scottish residents, aged 16+ conducted has shown that 56% of Scottish voters would support Scottish independence if the Scottish Government put a Wellbeing Economic Approach at the heart of its economic plans for an independent Scotland. A plan that recognises that quality of life, equality, fairness, sustainability, happiness, and health are all outcomes that should be given equal weight as it does to traditional measures such as GDP. 

The same poll asked the standard Yes/No question on independence, Yes support came in at 48%. This means that a Wellbeing Economic Approach increases independence support to 56% an 8% increase.  You can learn more about the Wellbeing economics approach here. This poll demonstrates that there is a route to independence if the Scottish Government is willing to adopt the Wellbeing Economic Approach and drop its outdated Sustainable Growth Commission. 

The impact of a Wellbeing Pension on independence support.

Believe in Scotland has also been campaigning for a Wellbeing Pension. The UK basic state pension is the second worst in the developed world and is a direct cause of pensioner poverty. The Wellbeing Pension has been calculated by Scotianomics, the research arm of Business for Scotland, as the minimum amount required by pensioners to live with basic dignity. That amount is £225.00 per week. 

When asked “If the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Economic approach included a commitment to increasing the basic state pension from £141.85 to a Wellbeing Pension of £225.00 per week in an independent Scotland - how would you vote in a Scottish independence independence referendum?” Support for independence skyrockets to 60%. That is a full 12% increase just by clarifying the message and doing the right thing. 

The Scottish Independence Congress Supports Wellbeing

When a similar question was asked of delegates at the recent Scottish Independence Congress hosted by Believe in Scotland and attended by 241 delegates selected from 126 local Yes Groups - 97% of delegates agreed that a core focus of Scotland’s campaign to become independent should centre around introducing and pursuing a Wellbeing Economic Approach. 

97% also supported the adoption of a Wellbeing Pension as a core manifesto commitment of pro-Yes parties. The message from the Yes movement is clear - they want Scotland to be a country which places the welfare and happiness of its citizens on par with economic prosperity.

Sustainable Growth Commission published in 2017 is now outdated and irrelevant to the new reality. It has been overtaken by events such as the economic damage done by Brexit, the health crises, the cost of living crises and disastrous economic management from the UK Government. There is no place for outdated conservatism in the economic plan for an independent Scotland. The next First Minister of Scotland must continue and in fact, accelerate, the Scottish Governments adoption the Wellbeing Economic Approach in their campaign for independence. 

How the Wellbeing Economic Approach changes minds on independence

It is clear that a focus on wellbeing economics increases support for independence, but where is that increase felt? In short, the difference is felt across almost every age group, sex and party affiliation. The commitment to a wellbeing economic approach by the government of a newly independent Scotland increases the support for independence across the board. The most stark demographic jump is among females aged 18-34 where support for independence increases 11% to 75-25 in favour. 

The next most interesting change comes from those who intend to vote Labour in the next Westminster election. When asked about their support for independence with the wellbeing commitment, Labour voter support jumps by 11% and LibDem support for independence increases by 12%. 

Across all regions of Scotland there are also significant increases in support for Yes. The largest increases are felt in the West and South of Scotland, where opposition to independence is traditionally strongest. In these areas a Wellbeing Economic Approach increases support for independence by 9% and 8% respectively, taking both areas above majority support for independence.  

How the addition of the Wellbeing Pension changes minds on independence

Committing to a Wellbeing Pension as part of the Wellbeing Economic Approach increases support for independence even more strongly across the board. The increases across demographics are felt more strongly among females, with the most consequential increase being Females 55+. This demographic was most opposed to independence in 2014, due to fears over pensions, this result shows there is a path to winning them to the cause of independence.

Looking at the results across party lines we can see support for independence once again increases significantly for Labour and LibDem voters. The key here is that the adoption of the Wellbeing Economic Approach with the Wellbeing Pension of £225.00 per week wins over large swathes of Labour voters, these voters are the key to Scotland winning its independence as they are most likely soft No voters or undecideds who voted to remain in the EU and are disheartened by the path the UK is on, if we can show them that an independent Scotland can offer a brighter future, we can win them over.

Conclusions

These results show that a key way to increase support for independence is to offer a vision of a fairer, more equal and happier nation that prioritises more than just economic growth but also the happiness for its citizens. 

Believe in Scotland and its parent organisation Business for Scotland have, since 2011, championed the introduction of wellbeing economics as the dominant economic model of an independent Scotland. The current and past failures of the UK Government highlight, even more starkly, that now is the time to move to this model. The old economic and political dogmas of the left and right are dead, they offer us no solutions to the current state of the UK. The world economy has teetered on the brink of collapse twice in just over a decade, with the UK economy never fully recovering from the first. We need new answers and wellbeing economics provides them.

Wellbeing economics provides answers to the big questions, such as how do we combat climate change, reduce inequality, improve health outcomes and quality of life? The solution is simple: we must give these outcomes the equal weight we currently give to traditional economic indicators such as GDP growth or trade statistics, incorporating them into official government publications and policies. Scotland’s aim should be to become a world leader in all the areas listed above by building a strong society and a strong economy - as one cannot exist without the other.

Through independence, Scotland can make strides to become a world leader in the other wellbeing indicators and the results of this poll shows that the Scottish people want that future. One where their quality of life and happiness is prioritised as much as economic growth.

Polling News: Yes support unchanged from October 2022 according to BIS-commissioned poll

A Panelbase poll conducted on behalf of Believe in Scotland has found 48% of respondents in support of Yes, the same as polls in October 2022, despite alleged ‘setbacks’ for the independence campaign. These results show that with a concentrated effort by the independence movement and the Scottish Government to put the focus back on independence, the results can be even higher and put us in a good position to hold a referendum campaign. 

This poll was conducted by PanelBase, surveying more than 2,000 respondents across Scotland weighted for age, social class etc. It finds that, when those who responded ‘Don’t Know’ are removed, 48% are in support of independence, compared to 52% who are opposed. This is a 4% decrease from a previous PanelBase poll conducted for The Times in December 2022 but is identical to another poll conducted in October 2022. Despite reported ‘setbacks’ in other polls, overall support for independence remains strong. The poll also measures how individuals would vote in a UK General and Scottish Parliamentary Election, which is particularly important given the Scottish Government’s proposal to run the next General Election as a de facto independence referendum. When these votes are translated into seats, we can see that the SNP would maintain a majority of seats both in Westminster and Holyrood. However, as things stand they do not have a majority of votes, even when this is combined with support from other pro-indy parties like the Scottish Greens and Alba. This shows that the use of such a strategy would have to be carefully considered in order to achieve a Yes vote that eventually grants us independence. 

While these results do not yet display an overall majority for Yes, voters have also shown they believe that Scottish independence is not only likely but inevitable. 65% of those polled believe that Scotland will become independent in the future, with over 50% believing that it will become independent in the next 10 years. This reinforces what Believe in Scotland has been saying for years- independence is normal and it is a likely prospect in the minds of many people across Scotland.

When the results are considered in detail, we can also see some variations in support with different demographic groups. Young people aged 16-34 years old consistently support independence at a higher rate (67%) compared to those who are older, particularly in the 55+ age group (35%). Interestingly, more women aged 35-54 support independence at 57% compared to men at the same age at 46%. Another significant group that supports independence at a higher than average rate is 2016 Remain voters (55%), as well as people who did not vote in that referendum (68%). People can see that Brexit continues to be an unmitigated disaster and are reacting accordingly. Conversely, 2016 Leave voters are one of the largest groups opposing independence at 71%. Campaigning to appease Leave voters to win a campaign like the rest of the UK political parties will not work. The independence campaign must promise closer ties with the EU or at least to address Remain and those who did not vote fears. 

The poll does not paint a good picture of public opinion on the Westminster government. Over 90% of those polled argue that UK Government policy was a factor in causing the current cost of living crisis. The Scottish public can see the impact of Westminster mismanagement in the form of increased heating bills, the cost of essentials and potentially not being able to afford food. They deserve better than what they have been given.

These results are critical following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister of Scotland last week. The independence movement is currently at an impasse in terms of how to approach the independence vote following the UK Government’s blocking of a Section 30 request for a second independence referendum in October 2023. The 2014 independence referendum campaign began with support for independence in the mid-30s, rising to 45% in the actual result. With a concentrated campaigning effort, which puts the focus back on winning independence, the EU and the Wellbeing Economic Approach, we are almost guaranteed to push support even higher than where it is now. Despite Westminster and the UK media establishment’s best attempts to divide and undermine us, we can further consolidate support. 

Fortunately, we at Believe in Scotland believe we have the solution. Believe in Scotland, along with its parent organisation Business for Scotland, have been championing the adoption of the Wellbeing Economic approach in an independent Scotland, with the idea eventually being endorsed by the Scottish Government. This approach puts social development on equal footing with economic development, believing that you cannot have one without the other. Our poll found that support for independence with the adoption of a Wellbeing approach increases to 55% and this approach with the inclusion of an increase in the current state pension to at least £225 a month, support increases to a supermajority of 60%. These results are telling- we can achieve independence if we put wellbeing at the heart of our campaign. 

Poll shows 68% of voters want an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU

A large scale poll by Believe in Scotland conducted by Panelbase has found a two thirds majority of support amongst Scottish voters for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. 

The poll of 2,006 people also found independence support to be at 48%. This is an increase from a similar sized recent Lord Ashcroft poll which had Yes at 44%.  It's worth noting that Ashscroft is not a British Polling Council member and does not need to use the standard methodology and sampling processes of more credible polling operations. 48% Yes is in the ballpark of where independence support has been for months. 

What about 16 and 17 year olds and EU nationals

Given the prospect of a Westminster General Election (UKGE) being used as a defacto referendum, we recalculated independence support by removing 16 and 17 year olds and EU nationals (as they would not be able to vote in a UKGE) and this gave the same 48% result. The only difference was that the poll rounded up to 48% rather than down to 48%, meaning that this cohort of voters represents a less than 1% loss to the Yes vote. 

Rejoining the EU

The poll also showed that 68% of voters would want an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. 

On Saturday 18th February, Believe in Scotland hosted the first Scottish Independence Congress. This online event was attended by more than 300 individuals, with 241 voting delegates from 126 local and national Yes groups. Delegates were asked to vote on a series of measures, including whether or not an independent Scotland should rejoin the EU. 80% said Yes- only 1.5% said No, while 3.5% were undecided. The second most popular option at 15% was for an independent Scotland to join EFTA (the European Free Trade Area). Removing the undecided, that's a massive 98% in favour of undoing the damage of Brexit, with full EU membership securing a supermajority amongst the organisers of the Yes movement. 

The demographic breakdown of the data shows that support for an independent Scotland rejoining the EU holds a majority in every age range surveyed, with significant majorities in favour in the under-55 age group. Those in the youngest demographics lead the charge, with 85% of females and 81% of males aged 16-34 years old in favour of rejoining.

Regret over Brexit is beginning to surface throughout the UK. A poll conducted by Focaldata for Unherd Britain found that only one Westminster constituency in the UK has a majority that thinks the UK was right to leave the EU. As the fog of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine lifts, the true economic fallout of Brexit is coming to light. 

This sentiment is shared by many in Scotland, with 61% of people saying that Brexit is a major factor in causing the current cost of living crisis and 29% saying they think it is a minor factor. With 65% of respondents putting the onus on UK government policies for the crisis, it is clear that the Scottish electorate is putting the blame squarely on the UK Government, either for its failed attempts at making Brexit work, or for the failure of its economic policies in dampening the crisis for households across the country.

An independent Scotland’s economy back in the EU

Independence is the only route to Scotland rejoining the EU and to rebuilding our economy after the damage caused by Brexit Britain- and the people of Scotland agree. 45% of those surveyed think our economy would perform better if Scotland was to rejoin the EU, with 16% thinking it would perform the same. So, 61% of respondents think that Scotland's economy would perform better or the same if we rejoined the EU and were an independent country. The 39% who think it would be worse matches closely the percentage of voters who still support Brexit.   

This result shows there is a clear appetite in Scotland to reconnect with our European partners. Previous polling by Believe in Scotland showed that 97% of those who moved from No in 2014 to Yes did so because of Brexit and that they believe an independent Scotland should rejoin the EU. This is a clear pathway to increase support for independence and the Yes movement must grab the opportunity with both hands. Brexit regret is rife across the UK as the economic fallout from Brexit is coming to light and with Scotland having been torn from the EU against our will, it is only right that the desire of Scots to be back inside the EU is felt more strongly now than ever before. 

So, how do we get there? 

Current Scottish Government policy is that when independence is won an independent Scotland will seek to rejoin the EU from day one. This will put Scotland back into the single largest trading bloc in the world and give us access to a talent pool of 500 million people, filling the labour shortages felt across industries such as healthcare, hospitality and construction. We must convince the electorate that rejoining the EU is essential to growing an independent Scotland’s economy and that access to the single market will mean Scottish exports can flourish. Scotland will once again become a hub for inward investment as Scotland breaks free from Brexit Britain and the downward trending UK economy. 

The message to undecided voters must be this; Britain is broken and its economy is in ruin. We cannot let Brexit-obsessed-Westminster drag Scotland down with it. The only way for Scotland to flourish is by gaining its independence and rejoining the European Union.

70% of Yes Group organisers say Westminster Election as defacto referendum is answer to Westminster's undemocratic indy stance

On Saturday 18th February, 241 voting delegates from 126 local and national Yes groups joined the Scottish Independence Congress hosted by Believe in Scotland. This was the biggest ever meeting of Yes Group organisers. Delegates met to discuss and agree on the next steps for the Yes movement and what the strategy for achieving independence should be. 

In quite a coup for Believe in Scotland the Congress delegates heard from representatives from each of the three main pro-Yes parties. Michael Russell from the SNP, Ross Greer from the Greens and Kenny MacAskill from Alba were all interviewed by Judith Duffy the Chief Political Reporter of the National on their suggested way forward for achieving independence.  

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp presented the results of a large scale (2,006 respondents) poll conducted in the previous week by Panelbase for Believe in Scotland and discussed how different policies such as Wellbeing Economics, rejoining the EU and paying a Wellbeing Pension impacted on support for independence. Polling details and Wellbeing Economics will be covered in a separate article.

Richard Walker the former Sunday Herald editor and founding editor of The National then hosted a lively discussion on the options with panelists Lesley Riddoch, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp and Kelly Given. 

Armed with hours of data and opinion from all sides of the debate, delegates then voted on a series of measures.  These have been laid out below:

What is the most practical democratic route to gaining Scotland’s independence?

All speakers and panelists were clear that the Scottish Government has multiple mandates for a second independence referendum and that is the gold standard way to demonstrate the will of the Scottish people and achieve Scotland's independence. That route being undemocratically blocked by Westminster is an affront to democracy and is driven by the fact that Westminster knows it will lose the next referendum. 

Given therefore that the choices of a path forward (assuming doing nothing is not an option) lies either through a Westminster or Holyrood defacto referendum - 70% of delegates supported using the next Westminster election as a defacto independence referendum, while just under 10% wanted to see a Holyrood election used, and a further 10% wished to see the law changed to force an early Holyrood election to be used as a defacto or a UK General Election used to secure a Section 30 referendum.

Independence support will only rise if we campaign and focus the nations thinking on the benefits of independence versus the irreversible decline of Brexit Britain.  When during that campaign independence support reaches the high 50s we expect Westminster will offer a Section 30 referendum - if not then the next UK General election becomes a defacto referendum. 

The Yes movement has been clear. The next Westminster election should be used by the pro-Yes parties as a defacto referendum on whether or not Scotland should be an independent nation. It is therefore the belief of the Congress that this should be adopted by the parties and that the date should be announced in order to energise the movement before a new SNP leader takes the reins.

Have the pro-Yes political parties specifically the SNP done enough to promote and explain the benefits of independence?

When asked, 91% of delegates thought that the pro-Yes parties had not done enough to promote and explain the benefits of independence to the Scottish people. A clear message from the Yes movement that there is significant work on the part of the parties to get our message out there to the undecideds. As the leadership race of the SNP kicks off, this is a clear sign that the next leader must refocus the party’s priorities back onto independence, an issue it seems many within the movement think the parties have been neglecting. 

Should an independent Scotland seek to rejoin the EU or the EFTA?

Scotland is an inherently pro-EU nation. Scotland voted 62% to remain in 2016 and in recent polling for Believe in Scotland, Panelbase found that 68% want an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. 80% of delegates at the Scottish Independence Congress voted in favour of an independent Scotland rejoining the EU, with another 15% voted that we should rejoin the European Free Trade Association. Scotland is an outward looking nation, we must leave behind Brexit Britain and reconnect with our European partners, that is the message of this Congress.

Getting the Policies Right

87% of delegates would like to see the Scottish Government restart the publication of its policy papers on independence which ceased after the supreme court ruling. These papers gave the Yes movement critical ammunition in winning over undecideds and those whose “hearts said yes but their heads said no”. It is paramount for the movement going forward that the Scottish Government make its official stance clear on what policies it will pursue in the wake of independence. 

The Role of Believe in Scotland

87% of delegates also agreed that an organised grassroots, non party political campaign such as Believe in Scotland was vital to increasing support for and ultimately winning independence. 85% would also like to see pro-Yes political parties kick their membership into campaign mode and join Believe in Scotland and our 136 affiliated Yes Campaign Groups to campaign and raise the Yes support - making any plebiscite on independence a sure win. 

Conclusions

The Scottish Independence Congress succeeded in its plans to bring together the organisers of the Yes movement and chart the course towards independence. The delegates to this Congress have stated clearly that in the absence of an agreed referendum that the next Westminster General Election be a defacto referendum on Scottish independence. In addition to this, we ask that the political parties reaffirm their commitment to ensuring that an independent Scotland will begin the process of rejoining the EU from day one. 

The SNP is Scotland dominant political party and the Scottish Independence Congress hoped that a new leader could refocus the SNP on Independence, raise their game and refresh the message whilst working more closely with Believe in Scotland to and our affiliated groups to launch a proper and sustained campaign that will lead to Scotland independence and the opportunity to build a better country that only independence can bring. 

Through these commitments and through these policies we can ensure that pro-independence support in Scotland will reach new highs and that more and more people will be persuaded to Believe in Scotland.

200+ delegates to attend Scottish Independence Congress - Sat 18th Feb

Saturday's Scottish Independence Congress will be the biggest ever gathering of Yes Group organisers. More than 200 delegates from around 100 Yes Groups have registered to attend the online Congress.

The growing success of this event (registration opening only two weeks ago) serves to prove that the grassroots independence campaign is getting ready for a final push to gaining Scotland's independence - regardless of the pathway to independence chosen by the political arm of the Yes movement.

In a coup for Believe in Scotland, leadership figures from the three main independence-supporting political parties have agreed to be quizzed on the best route to Scottish independence and the Congress will vote and agree on our proposal on the way forward. Michael Russell of the SNP, Kenny MacAskill of Alba and Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens will all be quizzed by The National's chief Political Reporter, Judith Duffy.

Believe in Scotland is the grassroots campaign support organisation managed by Business for Scotland. Believe in Scotland now has 136 affiliated local and national Yes Groups that campaign together to promote the benefits of Scottish independence.

The Congress is open to all active campaigning groups regardless of their affiliation and so it's an all-political party and no-party congress of leading campaigners from Orkney to the Borders.

Also on the agenda will be an exclusive announcement of polling results conducted by Panelbase for Business for Scotland that will reveal the key economic and social policies that will significantly increase independence support. A panel session, chaired by former Sunday Herald and The National editor Richard Walker, with activists and commentators: Lesley Riddoch, Kelly Given and BiS Founder Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp.

Delegates will then participate in a series of votes to agree on the position of the Grassroots Yes Movement on the pathway to independence. The success of this Congress sends the message that independence is moving higher up the political agenda. Even if the leadership of political parties changes, the destination and our determination to get there remains the same.  

Scotland will become a successful, fairer, greener, wealthier, healthier and happier thriving independent nation in the near future.

If you run an active independence campaigning Yes group and would like to attend email [email protected] for details on how to register.